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Best albums of 2011 thus far…..

June 20, 2011

I wanted to wait about a week to make this list, but then I realized that I always want to wait a week & squeeze in a couple more albums before I make a list like this. So here it is, some of my favorites of 2011 that I have really been enjoying. Not all of these albums have been featured on my blog just yet, mostly because I have been busy & getting behind with reviews. So, lets go ahead & get to it shall we?

EP out of nowhere: #13 TOKiMONSTA – Creature Dreams (EP)

Brainfeeder is the lable to the great electronic artist, Flying Lotus, and many other up & coming artists like: Samiyam, Thundercat, & Mono/Poly. Here is what TOKiMONSTA’s lable, Brainfeeder, has to say about her debute EP:

“Jennifer Lee aka TOKiMONSTA prefers to work late – or early, depending on how you look at it. Most of her music is made between two and seven in the morning, because at that time of night “my mind works in strange and mysterious ways.” Hence the title of this EP, a series of warm but decidedly woozy pieces of music, the soundtrack to the oddest, most beautiful dreams you’ve ever had.”

I love this EP, it is all electronic, but you also get a special treat when Gavin Turek sings on the 2 of the tracks. Her voice is amazing & beautiful & it flows with TOKiMONSTA’s beats wonderfully. This is an EP I will definitely keep spinning throughout the year. Creature Dreams was released on May 17th, and you can check here, for the links to purchase.

I give TOKiMONSTACreature Dreams (EP), 8.5/10

Greatest surprise: #12 Holy Other – With U (EP)

This 5 track EP stood out to me right away. With only 1 stream, I had posted to my twitter account, that I thought this was the coolest thing I had heard all year. This EP, I think, could be classified in the post-dubstep cattegory. Sorry if I have confused you just now. Music is ever chaning & the categories people are making up to describe it are also always changing. This EP is great, I have listened to it quite a few times since I downloaded it a couple weeks ago. With U, is available officially on June 7th. It is available digitally right now & you can grab it on Itunes if you’re like me & can’t wait. They did have a full stream of the album up on soundcloud & posted on Altered Zones, but that looks like it gone now. You can still listen to 2 of the tracks here, including my favorite track, “Touch.”

I give Holy OtherWith U (EP), 8.6/10

Most likely to make you dance: #11 Cut Copy – Zonoscope

 Zonoscope was recently featured on my last blog post, “5 great albums of 2011.” Cut Copy is an electro-pop group from Australia. They released their 3rd full length this February. This album has a total 80’s vibe & is perfect to put on if you’re in the mood for dancing. Give it a listen if you are into that kind of music. It is really quite a great album.

I gave Cut CopyZonoscope, 8.6/10

Most likely to transport you back into the 80’s: #10 Com Truise – Galactic Melt

Don’t let his funny name throw you, this is already one of my most listened to albums of the year. Those of you unfamiliar with Com Truise need to get acquainted & stat. Seth Haley, a.k.a. Com Truise, resides in NJ. He makes, what is best described by him as: “mid-fi synth-wave, slower-motion funk.” I will be simplifying that & just calling his stuff, “synth-wave.” I just have this feeling with a lot music I’m hearing this year, that 2011 is The Year of The Synth. If not, the synthesizer is making a huge comeback. I welcome this comeback & am loving a lot of the synth music that’s coming out.

Galactic Melt sounds like the soundtrack to a futuristic 80’s movie….. that was never made. If you are diggin’ Mr. Truise’s music as much as I do, you should make your way over his website & pick up his 2010 EP, Cyanide Sisters for free. After you are done downloading that, go pick yourself up a copy of Galactic Melt. If you like his style, you will NOT be disappointed.

I give Com Truise Galactic Melt, 8.6/10

Only album to be called a “groove-wave classic”: #9 Peaking Lights – 936

Peaking Lights own label, Not Not Fun was the one call the album a “groove-wave classic.” In my review, I also posted that Chris, from Gorilla vs. Bear said, “…It’s definitely one of the coolest records we’ve heard this year.” 936 also came in at #2 on his recent post “Favorites of 2011.5.” You can read my original review on Peaking Lights, here.

I gave Peaking Lights936, 8.6/10

My favorite singer-songwriter album:

#8 Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo

This is also an album I featured on my recent post, “5 great albums of 2011.”This is an alum that grew on me a lot over multiple listens. I liked Smoke Ring For My Halo after the 1st listen, but after a few more listens I was really into it. There really isn’t a bad track on the whole album. If you like singer-songwriter music, you should give this album a shot.

I gave Kurt Vile Smoke Ring For My Halo, 8.7/10

Best folk album so far: #7 Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

The Fleet Foxes surprised me a little this year with this album. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but I didn’t think it would be easy for them to follow up their amazing self-titled 2008 release. I didn’t really get into listening to folk until the next year (’09) so when I did, I loved their 1st album. I was excited to get a listen to their new one. I liked it just as much as their 1st LP. If you were wondering whether or not you should check this out, my vote is to do it right now if you haven’t already. For me, folk music just wouldn’t be the same without the Fleet Foxes.

I give Fleet FoxesHelplessness Blues, 8.7/10

Best vintage rock sounds: #6 Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde

I called this, “..the album you NEED TO OWN in 2011.” Check my review, here.

I gave Smith WesternsDye It Blonde, 8.7/10

Best rock album with a saxaphone: #5 Destroyer – Kaputt

Kaputt is such a beautiful album to listen to, this was another album that I listed on my last post, “5 great albums of 2011.” Like I said on that, this was the 1st Destroyer album that I have listened to. I have to imagine that it also his best.

I gave Destroyer Kaputt, 8.8/10

Best breakthrough album: #4 White Denim – D

White Denim is a band I’ve been listening to for a few years now. The band from Austin, TX put out their 1st EP in 2007, Let’s Talk About It. This was a very punk inspired EP that I thought was great. Then the next 2 years they put out full length albums: Exposition & Fits. These albums all had a noticeable punk influence. Then I heard last year that they had released a new album as a free download, Last Day of Summer. It was completely unlike any of their previous albums. A quote from their website about the album:

“We were super pumped to utilize a few fresh and casual musical approaches on this record.”

And they did just that. The album is still available for a free download on their website, here. I highly recommend you grab that right away & give it a try. Last Day of Summer was one of my top 25 albums from last year. If you like it, they have links provided to donate money if you wish. And after you have decided that you love their sound, you need to go & get the album, D. It is even better. I hope that I can manage to go & see them play live in a couple weeks.

I give White Denim D, 8.8/10

Best post-dubstep album: #3 James Blake – James Blake

When I 1st reviewed James Blake’s self-titled album, I was still a bit fuzzy as to what exactly dubstep was. I now know my dubstep fairly well & have even heard some of it spilling over into the mainstream. Most of the stuff I enjoy & listen to doesn’t exactly fit under the dubstep label. Which, is why people are now calling his music & some others “post-dubstep.” You can read about that if you are interested here. None of that really matters to much to me, I just enjoy listening to this album all the time. You can check out my review, here.

I gave James BlakeJames Blake, 8.8/10

Mostly likely to go unnoticed: #2 Teeel – Amulet

What can I say that I haven’t already said about Teeel? I love this album. After hearing a single & buying the full album, I listened to it 10 straight times before I ever changed my Ipod to anything else. Teeel is best friends to Seth Haley aka, Com Truise. They both play their different styles of synth-wave. Each are great, but Teeel’s is much different using guitars & his distorted vocals along with the new wave beats & synthesizer. For whatever reason, most people are still unaware of Teeel’s stuff, maybe he’ll get some much deserved love soon. You can read an interview I did with Teeel, here. And you can read my full review of Amulet, here.

I gave TeeelAmulet, 9.0/10

Animal Collective who? #1 Panda Bear – Tomboy

Panda Bear, aka Noah Benjamin Lennox, is the founding member of the popular band Animal Collective. I really prefer his solo work, to what he’s done with Animal Collective. Not that I don’t like that stuff too, I just think what he has done on his own is just that amazing. Especially when it comes to his latest album, Tomboy. Tomboy’s release was pushed up a week this year so it could be released on Record Store Day. I’m glad, sometimes waiting just a week can make me a bit overanxious. He went for a more minimal sound with this album. (as per his NPR interview) Whatever he did on this album seemed to work beautifully. Tomboy is a solid album from start to finish & one you need to check out.

I give Panda BearTomboy, 9.1/10

Overview:

1. Panda Bear – Tomboy 9.1

2. Teeel – Amulet 9.0

3. James Blake – James Blake  8.8

4. White Denim – D 8.8

5. Destroyer – Kaputt 8.8

6. Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde  8.7

7. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues 8.7

8. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo 8.7

9. Peaking Lights – 936 8.6

10. Com Truise – Galactic Melt 8.6

11. Cut Copy – Zonoscope 8.6

12. Holy Other – With U (EP) 8.6

13. TOKiMONSTA – Creature Dreams (EP) 8.5

Honorable mentions:

Cold Cave

Comma

Teams vs. Starslinger

Pains of Being Pure At Heart

PJ Harvey

Radiohead

The Weeknd

tUnE-yArDs

Artists that probably would be up here on my list if I would have taken more time to listen to:

The Antlers

Bon Iver

Gang Gang Dance

Puro Instict

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Blake Tucker permalink
    June 20, 2011 10:14 pm

    This is a pretty solid list. Really, really good. But I hope you give that Gang Gang Dance a few more listens and I hope to see it on your year end list possibly alongside Cold Cave. But you really need to hear that new How To Dress Well EP. I have a feeling I’ll be seeing it on your year end list. I think it’ll make it on mine.

    • cooper417 permalink*
      June 20, 2011 10:50 pm

      Gang Gang Dance would have for sure been on here, I really like that album. I can’t wait to hear the HTDW, they made my top 10 last year.

  2. tom permalink
    June 21, 2011 3:12 pm

    you can’t leave off radiohead. subpar radiohead is still more brilliant than most anything else released.

    • cooper417 permalink*
      June 21, 2011 3:27 pm

      I did like Radiohead’s King of Limbs, but not as much as any of these albums I listed. I do have it on my list right there below these 13 albums along with PJ Harvey. Those 2 just barely missed my list, but would have been in my top 20 so far for sure. Gang Gang Dance, Bon Iver, Puro Instinct for sure would have been on my list in these top albums if I had listened to them more than once or twice. (I listen a minimum of 3 times before rating)
      Seeing as your email address starts out with “Thom” I can see you are only slightly biased. Thanks for the input though, I do need to get Radiohead up on my honorable mentions list too.

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